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MLIS professor receives the 2012 Beta Phi Mu Award

Mary Wagner, Ph.D., has been chosen to receive the Beta Phi Mu Award from the American Library Association.
Mary Wagner, Ph.D., has been chosen to receive the Beta Phi Mu Award from the American Library Association.
Photo by St. Kate's Photo Bureau

Mary Wagner, Ph.D., professor of library and information science at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn., has been selected as the recipient of the American Library Association’s 2012 Beta Phi Mu Award. This annual award, donated by the Beta Phi Mu International Library Science Honorary Society, is presented to a library school faculty member or to an individual who demonstrates distinguished service to education in librarianship.

Wagner was selected for her contributions to library education and librarianship both locally and internationally.

In 1986, when the University of Minnesota closed its accredited library degree program, aspiring librarians had no educational options within the state. Wagner worked tirelessly to establish a formal accredited library science program in Minnesota. Through collaboration with Dominican University (formerly Rosary College in Chicago), she helped establish a library science program at St. Catherine University. After a number of successful years, she initiated the formal accreditation process, and in 2011, the library science program received full accreditation by the American Library Association.

However, at the time her dream of accreditation for St. Catherine came to fruition, Wagner was on sabbatical half a world away at the University of Zambia in Lusaka. As a Fulbright Scholar she lectured in the Library Studies Program, developed a curriculum for school librarians, conducted workshops in library marketing and worked with the Lubuto Library Project fostering literacy development among Zambian children.

This was just one of her many sojourns abroad to promote library education. She helped develop a library at the Unidad Academica Campesina in Bolivia. She has consulted with international groups, escorted groups of students to international conferences (including the International Librarianship Conference in Finland this summer) and contributed to the sharing of library and information science knowledge and expertise across international borders.

Wagner has also demonstrated a commitment to diversity in the library field. Through collaboration with the St. Paul Public Library, she established the Urban Library Program at St. Catherine. The Urban Library Program gives training to minority candidates and encourages them to embark upon careers in the library profession. Throughout, she brings her diverse experiences into the classroom. She is a mentor and an inspiration to her students, encouraging them to think globally and to bring the power of libraries to communities near and far.

She has taught and developed courses at St. Catherine University since 1975 and is a former department chair and director of the Master of Library and Information Science program. She has won multiple grants and has published several articles in journals such as Library Trends and World Libraries.

The Beta Phi Mu Award will be presented at the ALA Award Ceremony and Reception, Sunday June 24 at the ALA Conference in Anaheim, Calif.

For more information about the Beta Phi Mu Award, visit the American Libraries Magazine website.

March 7, 2012 by ALA News

See also: Faculty, Leadership